Oathbringer Reread

Oathbringer Reread: Chapter One

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Welcome back to Week 2 of the Oathbringer reread! Last week, we took our third look at the fateful night of the treaty-turned-assassination, from the perspective of the young Listener scout who started it all. This week, we return to Urithiru, where Dalinar is facing a host of problems ranging from personal to global importance—not least of which is how to get anyone to believe him.

Reminder: we’ll potentially be discussing spoilers for the ENTIRE NOVEL in each reread. There’s really not much Cosmere connectivity this week, other than a few explanatory remarks in Cosmere Connections. But if you haven’t read ALL of Oathbringer, best to wait to join us until you’re done, because there are references all over the book this week.

Chapter Recap

WHO: Dalinar
WHERE: Kholinar vision, Urithiru
WHEN: 1174.1.1.4

When we left our heroes at the end of Words of Radiance, they’d safely arrived in Urithiru following the Everstorm and the battle on the Shattered Plains. Dalinar had bonded the Stormfather and is a true Knight Radiant now, and Kaladin, Renarin, and Shallan were all outed as Knights Radiant as well. Shallan was still being somewhat secretive about the extent of her abilities. Szeth had been taken as an apprentice by Nalan and the Skybreakers after a miraculous revival, and Adolin had killed Torol Sadeas after having shoved poor Eshonai into a chasm.

Now, six days later, Dalinar retreats into one of his vision-dreams, seeking answers. Kholinar is reportedly being torn asunder by riots and the Queen has gone silent. The Everstorm approaches, cycling back around the continent, but the nations of the world don’t heed Dalinar’s warnings. Dalinar sees Odium’s Champion, and comes to the realization that he must unite the world faster than Odium can destroy it—to do so, he needs to find more Knights Radiant. Before he can begin to address any of the million problems presented, however, a scout arrives to alert them that Sadeas has been murdered.

Threshold of the Storm

 

Oathbringer Reread chapter arch icon

Herald: All four positions show Chanarach, patron of Dustbringers, associated with the essence Spark, the role of Guard, and the divine attributes of Brave and Obedient. We certainly don’t see Chach herself in this chapter, so why is she here?

Alice: I have a couple of safe guesses and one hare-brained notion. Dalinar is in the position of Guard to humanity, at this point; he’s placed himself between the humans and Odium to defend them somehow. It takes courage, and is his best attempt at obedience to the command to “Unite them.” Those are the safe ones. The wild hare (it can hardly even be dignified with the term “theory”) is that the scars Dalinar sees on the walls of Kholinar, presumably caused by thunderclasts, could be a manifestation of the Voidbinding version of Dustbringers.

Lyn: Or just… big claws.

A: Dalinar mentions seeing creatures in his visions who could do this, and specifically describes the thunderclast. But whether they’re related to Dustbringers is unknown and a pretty dodgy guess.

Icon: The character icon is Dalinar’s “House Kholin” shield—the Tower and the Crown. It will show itself on all chapters where his POV is primary.

Title: The chapter title, Broken and Divided, comes from this statement by Navani:

“Dalinar, we’re half frozen up here, broken and divided. Our command structure is in disarray, and it—”

I’d like to point out here that the chapter titles almost always mean more than their specific context.

L: There are a few things this can be in reference to, which I like. First of all, the big obvious one. The nations of the world are Divided. But we can dig a little deeper here and note that the proto-Radiants we know of are also Divided, with the exceptions of Dalinar, Shallan and Renarin, who are all in Urithiru. Kaladin’s off to save his parents. Szeth is training to be a Skybreaker. Lift is probably eating. Jasnah’s traveling on her way back to Urithiru after her jaunt in Shadesmar. At this point in the story, their goals are divided, each aiming for a different goalpost. By the end, they’re United in Purpose, so it’s fitting that this is where we begin.

A: In an even more localized sense, the Alethi army is broken by the Battle of Narak, and divided between those who went with Dalinar and those who refused. The divisions between the princedoms are going to have a lot of petty impacts as we go.

I’m certain some will feel threatened by this record. Some few may feel liberated. Most will simply feel that it should not exist. —from Oathbringer, preface

A quick scan through the comments from the serialization (Chapters 1-3) indicates that several people guessed right off that it was Dalinar writing (or Navani writing for him), and one person suggested that Sunmaker had written it. The funny thing is, the people who guessed it was Dalinar mostly changed their minds later, IIRC.

Stories & Songs

“In my visions, I witnessed a stone monster that ripped itself free from the underlying rock.”

Art by Michael Whelan

L: Th-th-th-thunderclast! The interesting thing I find about these is that they’re animated from spren “possessing” inanimate objects… sounds awful Awakening-y to me. Though they do only ever seem to possess the same substance—stone. I wonder if they CAN possess other things?

A: Well, that’s a terrifying thought. So far, we’ve only seen them animate unworked stone—ripping themselves out of the ground. It would be moderately awful if the spren could possess a chunk of a city wall, for example—ripping a hole in the wall as its genesis, and then tearing down everything around it without even having to move. My best guess, though, would be that worked stone sees itself as Wall, and would be much harder to redirect than the ground.

L: Kind of like Soulcasting, then. Unworked stone has no other sense of purpose.

A: I’d almost forgotten, but when we see them in the Avalanche, the thunderclasts are referred to by proper names—presumably the names of the specific spren who do this:

Among the waiting spirits were two larger masses of energy—souls so warped, so mangled, they didn’t seem singer at all. One crawled into the stone ground, somehow inhabiting it like a spren taking residence in a gemheart. The stone became its form.

So… it’s still possible that unworked stone is needed. Come to think of it… that doesn’t sound like Soulcasting. If there’s any parallel to Surgebinding at all, it might well be something belonging to Stonewards. Unless it’s Division after all, in the sense of dividing one chunk of rock from the rest of the ground… Okay, my head is spinning. Time to change the subject.

Let’s talk Champions!

“A golden light, brilliant yet terrible. Standing before it, a dark figure in black Shardplate. The figure had nine shadows, each spreading out in a different direction, and its eyes glowed a brilliant red.” “Those eyes frightened him more. He saw something terribly familiar in them.” “This was the enemy’s champion. And he was coming.”

There were lots of guesses from the preview chapters as to the identity of Odium’s champion, with Adolin being one of the top contenders. This one in particular from dendrophobe made me laugh/cry:

“From the red eyes alone, I’m guessing Eshonai as Odium’s champion.”

L: Oh, Eshonai. We barely knew thee…

A: It was a good guess. It was just wrong. ::sniffle:: Not that I wanted Eshonai to be Odium’s champion, natch. I’m just sad about Eshonai. Still.

L: But the winner of that thread is Mad Mic, who guessed it right in comment 72.

“Dalinar is odium’s champion…”

L: Granted, Dalinar turned it down, making Mad Mic only HALF right, so… half a cookie. And we’ll throw the other half at Amaram’s head.

A: Can we let that second half get good and stale first, though? Hard as a rock? Thanks.

L: Maybe we can Soulcast it. “But wouldn’t you rather be a rock? Think of how much more damage you’d do…”

A: I like it.

L: There’s also this interesting bit from The Way of Kings , from the same vision:

“You might be able to get him to choose a champion. He is bound by some rules. All of us are. A champion could work well for you, but it is not certain. And… without the Dawnshards…”

L: A few things to unpack here. For starters, Dawnshards are NOT the same as the Honorblades or regular Shardblades. Some have speculated that they’re weapons that were supremely powerful… even able to destroy worlds. It’s hard to say much about them, as there’s little in the canon and even the WoB’s are sparse—he’s RAFO’d every single one. This makes me wonder… where the heck are they now? Do we have any clues? Is Hoid hunting them, the sneaky bastard?

A: We have virtually no clues about what or where the Dawnshards are. (I wonder if Hoid does know anything?) The Stormfather calls them weapons ( Oathbringer Chapter 113), but given that it’s second-hand and Honor was raving at the time, I dunno. Their use apparently made Ashyn unlivable, so that the humans fled from there to the flying cities and to Roshar.

L: Is that in the text somewhere, or a WoB?

A: It’s … okay, it’s actually a couple of things combined. There’s that bit in Chapter 113 where the Stormfather quotes Honor as saying the Dawnshards were used to destroy the Tranquiline Halls, and there’s one WoB that says humanity’s move to the skies and the other planet were caused by the same cataclysm .

L: Fascinating, Captain.

A: A lot of people think that the Dawnshards are swords, but I’m inclined to think that they’re a gemstone or similar object that can hold incredible amounts of Investiture and/or magnify Surgebinding to a cataclysmic level. For all I know, that “perfect gemstone” we see later is actually a Dawnshard; at least, in the TWoK Chapter 36 epigraph, the Dawnshard is said to be able to “bind any creature voidish or mortal.” It’s a bit of a stretch to think that one of the Dawnshards has been sitting in the Thaylen bank for the last however-long, and no one knew it, but why not?

L: It’s as plausible as the Ravenclaw diadem being in the Room of Requirement the whole time…

A: True dat.

L: What about these rules Odium’s bound to? Does this have something to do with the Shard he’s got?

A: Hmm. I’ve always assumed that all the Shard Vessels were bound by rules inherent to the very nature of Adonalsium—something they couldn’t break if they wanted to. We know there were agreements among the Vessels, some of which were later broken, but this doesn’t seem to be breakable.

“What was that light I saw?” “Odium. The enemy.”

L: I find it interesting that a golden light is representative of “evil.” It’s a nice reversal of the trope that good guys are represented by white and bad guys with black.

Dalinar is probably about this hard to take down, considering his Radiant Mutant Healing Factor

A: It’s very like the Biblical story of Lucifer, who before his fall was a high angel and was called the Morning Star, the light-bringer. Without going into detail, there are lots of references to Lucifer/Satan presenting as an angel of light.

“Nine shadows? The Unmade. His minions, ancient spren.” Dalinar knew them from legend only. Terrible spren who twisted the minds of men.

L: Here’s our first mention of the Unmade! They were mentioned only once in The Way of Kings and six times over the course of Words of Radiance , mostly by Listeners—though Shallan invokes them once (““An animal that speaks! You’ll bring the eyes of the Unmade upon us.”) It’s in Oathbringer , however, that we finally find out what these creatures are—sort of.

A: Heh. Sort of, indeed. I’m really looking forward to discussing the Part Four epigraphs, which are all about the Unmade. For what it’s worth, Brandon did say that the Unmade en masse are sort of the Odium equivalent to the Stormfather/Honor and the Nightwatcher/Cultivation. Unfortunately, that was sort of… pried out in conversation, not recorded, so I can’t link the quotation.

L: He’s also said that most of them aren’t sapient , which is a pretty interesting distinction.

A: Oooooo! I missed that one. I know it’s implied in the epigraphs I just mentioned, but nice to have it confirmed.

L: It’s worth noting, however, that Words of Brandon are NOT canon. Even he makes mistakes, and reserves the right to change things sometimes if he needs to, to serve the story.

In the preview chapters, Isilel asked a great question:

“Weren’t the Unmade around before Heralds broke their oaths? I am fairly certain that it was implied somewhere that they were.”

L: I did a search of the Arcanum and found this one RAFO’d WoB on the subject, but canonically we have no evidence of this one way or the other.

A: We just have so little information about them! It hurts!! (I do have a theory that the Unmade were once human, but were un-made and re-made as Splinters of Odium. I expect it’s wrong, though. Most of my theories are.) However… the Midnight Essence vision Dalinar saw in TWoK Chapter 19 would seem to imply that the Unmade were active at that point, and that it was before the Desolations ended—probably in that stage where they weren’t so far apart people forgot about them, but not yet so close together that humanity couldn’t recover in between. Also, after the Radiant orders were created. So yes, I think Isilel is right: it’s strongly implied that the Unmade were active well before the Oathpact was broken.

Relationships & Romances

L: Let’s talk about Navani and Dalinar’s relationship. It’s so beautiful and wholesome. For Dalinar to have been in love with her for so long and then to finally have his dreams realized, and that she loves him back so completely and is perfect for him—it’s like a fairy tale ending.

And this worries me, because I know story structure. Navani is so awesome and she makes Dalinar so happy that I worry for her long-term survivability.

A: I concur; I worry about her. Then again, I worry about Dalinar, too.

I thought this was the most fascinating description of the woman he loves…

Navani Kholin was not some timid, perfect ideal—she was a sour storm of a woman, set in her ways, stubborn as a boulder rolling down a mountain and increasingly impatient with things she considered foolish.
He loved her the most for that.

Hah! Not sure I’d be flattered to be called “a sour storm of a woman”… Still, there it is.

L: I love it. He sees her how she really is and not as some idealized version of herself. If that’s not true love, I don’t know what is.

A: Interestingly, right after that he talks about her being “open and genuine in a society that prided itself on secrets.” I have to wonder if he sees “the real Navani” or not, because she strikes me as an accomplished manipulator.

L: You know… thinking back on it, I don’t think of her as a manipulator. She’s always seemed pretty genuine and open to me—the fact that she went out and painted that big huge glyph when she thought Dalinar was dead was incredible. I wouldn’t think that someone who was insular would be okay with displaying their grief so publicly. I can’t think of any examples of her acting in a manipulative way, but then… we all know how great my memory is for anything that doesn’t have to do with Kaladin or Adolin.

A: I’m not saying “manipulator” in a negative way; I just see Navani as someone who knows what she wants and will skillfully work the system (or people) as necessary to get it. Then again, compared to most of Alethi society, I guess that is relatively straightforward.

Squires & Sidekicks

L: 95% sure that the scout mentioned at the end here is Lyn, since she’s been hanging out with Bridge 4 and it would make sense for her to be the one to get sent up to report in to Dalinar here. She’ll be back later, so for now it’s just worthwhile to note that she shows up.

A: I’m too lazy to go chase it through for proof, but I’m with you. Pretty sure it’s Lyn. Hi, Lyn!! ::waves::

L: ::waves:: Oh wait, you meant Fiction!me, not… Real!me… Not gonna lie, guys, this gets pretty surreal sometimes.

A: Heh. I just pretend it’s all the same. Which isn’t really fair, because I know there are all kinds of differences between Lyndsey-the-author and Lyn-the-scout… but you’re the same person to me. ::blows kisses::

Places & Peoples

L: The windblades are super cool. Natural formations, or man-made? What do you think, Alice?

A: Well… I don’t think they were made by humans; I rather think they were Shard-made. It’s even possible that they were created by Adonalsium when he made the continent; he was so purposeful in its design that I can see him designing special, protected places for the people to live. Which, of course, makes me wonder if there was a time when these cities—or the locations, anyway—were occupied by the Singers prior to the arrival of the humans.

L: It’s worthwhile to mention the Oathgates here, too. We saw one back in Words of Radiance , but we’re definitely getting a lot more information about them here. There are ten total, only one is currently unlocked (the one from the Shattered Plains), and they need to be unlocked from both sides before they can be used. I’ve always loved insta-travel in fantasy novels, and this system is no exception.

Art by Isaac Stewart

Tight Butts and Coconuts

Somehow we’ll make them listen—even if they’ve got their fingers planted firmly in their ears. Makes one wonder how they manage it, with their heads rammed up their own back-ends.

L: Navani Kholin is a treasure.

A: Absolutely.

Cosmere Connections

A: There’s not a lot to say here, except to remind ourselves that numbers are Meaningful in the Cosmere. Sixteen is important throughout the Cosmere because of the sixteen Shards of Adonalsium. We’ve seen throughout the first two books how everything on Roshar runs in tens, because ten is significant to Honor. Now we’re going to start seeing things in nines, because nine is Odium’s special number. Nine Unmade, nine Shadows, and… well, lets just be on the lookout for nines, eh?

A Scrupulous Study of Spren

“Dalinar had discovered that he could now have these visions replayed for him at will [due to having bonded the Stormfather himself]”

L: When Dalinar asks if he can go down to the city, the Stormfather replies, “You’re not supposed to go there.” But Dalinar insists, and the Stormfather complies (with a moody sigh). I love that Dalinar has already started to order him around. Poor, put-upon Storm-Daddy. He just wants to roll around Roshar and slide into people’s dreams. Why you gotta be so bossy, Dalinar?

A: The one that cracked me up was when Dalinar makes that request and the Stormfather rumbles, Dalinar’s all, “At least today he’s not using the voice that rattles my bones.” He’s so irreverent sometimes. Poor Stormfather.

Quality Quotations

You can find refuge from these storms, Son of Honor. Not so with our enemies.

Well, that was a short but interesting chapter! We got mentions of Odium’s Champion and the Unmade, set up Dalinar’s motivation moving forward (as if we didn’t know that Unity was going to be his big goal…) and got a great hook for the next chapter. Will Dalinar figure out that his eldest son is a murderer? Does anyone even really miss that snake Sadeas, anyway? How about Bridgeboy Broody-eyes and his quest to save his family, and Shallan, and… well, we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. Join us next week when we delve into Chapter Two, and as always feel free to join in on the conversation in the comments!

Alice is being reminded that despite the Weeping and the plague (or flu, or whatever is going around), life just keeps being busy. Whew! She hopes you’re all enjoying the Kaladin album from The Black Piper , because sometime soon she’ll show up here with a whole post about that project. Message her if you have any questions about the album you’d like to ask the creators.

Lyndsey ’s so ready for winter to be over. She’d much rather live in Roshar and have to deal with Highstorms and Weepings than the cold! If you’re an aspiring author, a cosplayer, or just like geeky content, follow her work on Facebook or her website .

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